Breathing is simple, right? Inhale, exhale. Wrong. Proper breathing is much more than inhaling and exhaling. I am by no means a breathing expert, a doctor, or even someone who is qualified to teach proper breathing, but I do know what works for me. I’m still learning and constantly try to be aware of my breath during daily activities and during yoga practice.
First, I determined if I was breathing properly. When I took a deep breath, my chest puffed out, my shoulders lifted, and I sucked in my stomach. This is not proper breathing. Only the top portion of my lungs were being used. Having trouble figuring it out? Lay on the floor. You will notice your breath. Place your hands on your stomach just above your belly button. Does your hand move? or does your chest move?
- Lay on the floor(don’t like laying on the floor, sit comfortable in a cross-legged position with a straight back).
- Take a deep breath through your nose expanding your diaphragm – your chest does not move. Your stomach expands and the hand that is resting on your stomach rises up. The breath should start in the stomach and slowly work its way up to the ribcage and the chest.
- Exhale stomach first followed by the ribcage and the chest. Your hand sinks into my stomach.
- Repeat! Each breath should be fluid and there shouldn’t be a pause between each breath.
- Husband tip: exaggerate your breathing when practicing!
With practice this is slowly becoming my natural way to breathe. I have found that when I get stressed, anxious, sad, overly excited, or tired, my breathing returns to the shallow breathing. Paying attention to my breathing has allowed me to refocus my energy and to breathe my way through a lot of uncomfortable emotions. I’m always learning, and I know I have a lot to learn. Any tips, advice, comments….please share!
The list of benefits of deep breathing is endless. Yoga Journal published a great article about the importance of breathing. You can read it here.
Here are a few that I was surprised to discover:
- Improvement in the quality of blood due to increased levels of oxygen. This aids in the elimination of toxins from our body.
- Increase in the digestion and assimilation of food. More oxygen in the stomach means the stomach can operate more effectively.
- Improvement in the health of the nervous system including the brain, spinal cord, nerve center and nerves.
- The movement of the diaphragm during deep breathing massages the abdominal organs and the heart. This stimulates blood circulation to the organs
- Lungs become strong and healthy. This can ward of respiratory problems.
- Deep, slow breathing reduces the work load for our hearth. This results in a strong more efficient heart that operates better and lasts longer. This also reduces blood pressure and heart disease.
- Deep, slow breathing can also aid in weight loss. Extra oxygen in your system can burn excess fat more efficiently and feeds starving tissues and glands.
- Relaxation of the mind. Deep, slow breathing reduces your heart rate and causes your muscles to relax. This can also reduce anxiety levels.
9 thoughts on “Learn to Breathe”
I love reading your blog…and I really relate., I just haven’t found who I belong to yet, I am nothing like the rest of my family..
You belong to you!!!! That is what I’m really trying to get out of this whole process….I’m always apologizing for my way of thinking or blowing it off like its not a big deal. Time to just be us and be proud to be us! (thanks for the inspiration!)
Hello! Just found your blog through Jayme’s blog — I love this post! I’ve been working on my breathing in yoga lately and I realized just how shallow my breathing had become. I’m feeling better than ever now that I’m taking more slow, deep breaths in yoga and throughout the day. 🙂
I love Jayme’s blog – I can’t wait for her to be settled in Paris so I can pretend to visit 🙂 Thanks for your sweet comment. I just popped over to your blog. It has been added to my google reader. I love it! I’ve been searching for some yoga inspiration!
I love this. As a mom with a baby boy newly diagnosed with cystic fibrosis… Every breath matters. When we have the full lung capacity and we choose not to use it (as I was guilty of, but my son has changed my perspective on this… Zapped me right out of laziness!)… It’s kind of like a slap in the face for those with sick lungs who would love the chance to breathe with full capacity lungs. They don’t even know what that’s like. Lovely post. Inspiring. 🙂 (Foubd you through Kristen @ The Concrete Runner on Instagram!) 🙂
Hi Kristy…glad to see this post…most of us take our breath for granted failing to realise that life can be so much better only if we breathe properly. I consider myself blessed that I learnt the importance of breath and Sudarshan Kriya- a powerful breathing technique when I did Art of Living course. To know more about breath & Sudarshan Kriya, visit artofliving.org
Thank you so much for reading! and commenting. Thank you for guiding me to this website also. I really want to spend a lot of next year focusing on this aspect of my life. I can’t wait to further explore.
all the best….am sure you will love ujjai breath and pranayams 🙂